CPFI and Relief Operations:
Strengthening our Connection with Consumers
By Carina M. Lising,
Assistant Vice President - Food Service
As lockdowns, multi-level quarantines, and limited dine-in services were implemented since March 2020, the food service (FS) industry has been greatly affected. Unfortunately, the pandemic indeed took a great toll on its potential growth.
Facing the challenge, the CPFI FS team saw the opportunity to pivot its major efforts through developing and servicing the needs of various institutions in both the public (i.e. LGUs, DSWD, DepEd, etc.) and private sectors (i.e. Caritas, ABS-CBN Foundation, Unilab, etc.). As the team already has strong partnerships with DSWD and several LGUs, we were able to provide shelf-stable and nutritious food through ayuda (gifting), relief operations, and feeding programs.
HOW IT STARTED:
The FS team started its business relationship with the Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) and different LGUs in 2012. The business started small, but we learned the ropes of government biddings and built relationships soon after. Little did we know that the full potential, although seasonal, was huge and back then, the untapped business was dominated by our competitors.
Our biggest break was in 2013 when Typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in the country. It was our first time engaging with DSWD on a large scale. The opportunity came through a late night call: there was an immediate need for large quantities of sardines and corned beef. The offer was, if CPFI could commit to deliver by 7:00AM the following day, the purchase order will be awarded that same night. With this opportunity at hand, immediate calls were made to the then-Sardines BU Head, Onjie Cruz, and our SCLD Head, Gerry Manalansan. As per Onjie, stocks were available, and Gerry said that it could be done provided that only the first truck will be at the delivery site by 7:00AM. The succeeding trucks would follow in the next hours. Gerry then immediately called his staff back to the depot and pulled some strings with his reliable truckers to prepare the delivery that same night. And the rest, as they say, was history.
After that, more and more opportunities started to come in. Onjie, Gerry, and I were invited to meet with the Department of Finance, Department of Trade & Industry, and Department of Social Welfare & Development to discuss how we can consistently and efficiently service their increasing requirements. That was the start of a reliable, competitive, and valuable partnership with DSWD.
Indeed, partnering with government entities has been an adventure. Some have even been fond memories-- CTP calling for a Sunday MANCOM meeting because there was an opportunity in DSWD Cebu that was called in on a Saturday; my same day emergency trip to Davao when I had to pacify an upset DSWD Regional Director; my trip to DSWD Iloilo when I was requested to join a press conference that started earlier than planned and even before I arrived, such that our Food Service Specialist had to do it instead!
ENTER 2020 and 2021:
The lockdown in March 2020 caught everyone by surprise. Orders for canned goods from several LGUs and private institutions stormed in. The FS team immediately organized a Core Group, in constant coordination with CPFI’s SCLD and production teams, to effectively and efficiently service these inquiries.
The opportunity to introduce and include new items in the standard ayuda packs (Century Tuna, WOW! Ulam, Argentina Meat and Beef Loaf, Birch Tree Fortified Milk, Hunts Pork & Beans and Lucky 7 Baked Beans) were made possible. As more brands were included, more and more Filipino consumers got to know and taste our other products.
Servicing DSWD and the LGUs with their urgent demands are both a challenge and source of pride. The Food Service team has always met these demands regardless of the date and time of day. We are truly honored to be of service to our countrymen by providing food to everyone, everytime, everywhere, and especially when they need it most.
We take pride in being with a company that cares for every Filipino.
Indeed, the Filipino can.